Two second-quarter turnovers led to two Cave Spring touchdowns Friday night, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the Knights’ 27-7 River Ridge District win over Carroll County in Hillsville.
Cave Spring (3-4, 2-2 River Ridge) turned an interception and a fumble, both on the Cavaliers’ side of the field, into touchdowns in the pivotal second quarter. Other than that, Carroll County (1-6, 0-4 River Ridge) held its own against the Knights, outscoring Cave Spring 7-6 in the second half. But after being held scoreless in the opening period, the Knights rang up 21 points in the second stanza to take control of the contest.
“The second quarter was not good to us. I think we had 40 yards in penalties and three turnovers and they scored off of two of them,” Carroll County head coach Eddie Sloss said. “Every time we tried to get something moving we just couldn’t sustain anything. That seems to be the same story every game I know. The guys played hard, they were resilient. They fought hard in the second half and that is what I asked them. I was proud of their effort.”
Jacob Knight broke the scoreless drive on the second play of the second quarter as he found Austin Ragan in the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown pass on 4th down and 7. Ragan would come up big six plays later, intercepting a Cavalier pass and returning it 50 yards to the Carroll 10. Zachary Bowling, who led Cave Spring with 118 yards rushing, punched in a touchdown four plays later on a 4th and Goal play from the 1.
A Cavalier fumble gave Cave Spring the ball back just five plays later at the Carroll 43 and Knight took advantage with another TD pass, a 24-yard hookup to William RInn to put his team up 21-0 at the half. But all in all, the Cavs’ pass defense was much improved Friday, intercepting two of Knight’s passes and holding the Cave Spring quarterback to 92 passing yards on 5-of-14 attempts.
“It was better. They caught us one time in a man coverage. I had a five-man blitz going and they just caught our defense off-guard. But our pass defense looked better,” Sloss said. “I am proud of them. They did a good job. They made a lot of good plays and we made some good plays. We are getting better.”
It was a heck of an effort for a Carroll team playing on just three days of rest. The Cavs hosted Hidden Valley on Monday night in a game pushed back due to rain the previous Friday. Carroll certainly refused to go away, staying in the contest after a scoreless third quarter and then getting some momentum after Eli Busick picked off a Knight pass. After an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Cave Spring, Carroll took over near midfield.
Chase Robinson, playing for the first time this year after an offseason injury, led the Carroll down the field, completing passes of 12 and 9 yards to Tristen Ousley and Brennan Vaught, respectively. Then on 4th down and 11 from the Cave Spring 29, Robinson lofted a beautiful pass that Ousley reeled in over a defender in the end zone for a touchdown. Logan Cole’s extra point brought the Cavs to within 21-7 with 9:11 left to play.
“The guys did a good job. We got Chase back and it was good to have him back,” said Sloss. “We got to see him throw the ball, which he is good at. We needed that element.”
An ensuing onside kick failed, however, and Cave Spring answered with Knights’ third touchdown pass of the game. Ousley would intercept another Knight pass later in the quarter, but Carroll turned the ball back over to Cave Spring with less than a minute left to play. Despite the loss, it was still one heck of an effort by the Cavaliers on a short week of preparation.
“I told them there was no excuses to be tired on Friday. We had a game on Monday, but it is what it is,” Sloss said. “I thought the guys were focused during practice this week. We were just a couple of plays away.”
Carroll will hope to continue building momentum Oct. 21 when it travels to Pulaski County for another district game. Meanwhile, Sloss is excited about the future of Carroll football, especially after the past couple of weeks that saw the Cavalier JV team defeat Hidden Valley 21-14 and beat Cave Spring 20-14 on Thursday.
“They are playing really good football right now. I am happy about what is coming down the road,” Sloss said. “The guys here now, the juniors and seniors are really working hard, and these sophomores have really bought into the system and we will have some 8th graders coming up next week I think will be helpful as well. That will bring some depth to our JV team. Now if we can just get some depth to our varsity team. But I am proud of our effort. They played well.”
C. Spring 0 21 0 6 – 27
Carroll Co. 0 0 0 7 – 7
CS – Ragan 29 pass from Knight (Howes kick)
CS – Bowling 1 run (kick failed)
CS – Rinn 24 pass from Knight (Guthrie pass from Knight)
CC – Ousley 29 pass from Robinson (Cole kick)
CS – Caldwell 30 pass from Knight (kick failed)
First Downs 10 8
Rushes-Yards 31-123 33-41
Passing 5-14-2 7-14-2
Passing Yards 92 76
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 11-145 13-130
Possession 20:21 27:39
RUSHING – Bowling 19-118, Jacobsen 6-36, Knight 4-minus 27, Team 2-minus 2.
PASSING – Knight 5-14-2 92 yds.
RECEIVING – Caldwell 2-37, Ragan 2-31, Rinn 1-24.
RUSHING – B. Vaught 7-34, Wells 10-26, Taylor 1-10, Ousley 5-6, Dalton 1-1, C. Vaught 4-minus 2, Robinson 5-minus 34.
PASSING – Robinson 5-10-0 57 yds., B. Vaught 2-4-2 19 yds.
RECEIVING – Ousley 2-41, Busick 2-13, Taylor 1-12, B. Vaught 1-9, Wells 1-1.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on [email protected]